Ator IV: Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990)

Eric Allen Kramer as the mighty Ator

AKA: Ator III: Hobgoblin, The Lord of Akili
Country: Italy
Director: Joe D’Amato
Starring: Eric Allen Kramer, Margaret Lenzey, Donal O’Brian, Dian Morrone, Chris Murphy, Laura Gemser, Marisa Mell
Editor: Kathleen Stratton
Cinematographer: Joe D’Amato
Writer: Joe D’Amato
Music: Idra Music, Carlo Maria Cordio
Producer: Carlo Maria Cordio

Ator IV is inept on every level. I found it to be one of the more harrowing viewing experiences of recent times. Now, here you may be thinking that I am just being mean-spirited. But take for example a film like Barbarian Queen 2, which is a film that has a minuscule budget, piss-poor acting, un-convincing choreography and a plot that has been cobbled together using every swashbuckling film cliche imaginable. And yet the film is fantastic. A good time is had by all concerned. Ator IV also has a minuscule budget, piss-poor acting, un-convincing choreography and a plot that you wouldn’t wrap fish and chips in. But there the similarities with BQ2 end. Ator IV is cold, lifeless and downright incomprehensible.

Grindle the cantankerous Troll

The film opens on ‘the day of justice’, and Prince Ator (Eric Allen Kramer) sentences a man to death for rape. As these guys in white robes and lizard masks (or are they lizard people — I don’t know) watch on, Ator lops the head off the guilty party. Then this warrior named Thorn turns up and throws a spear at Ator. The point finds it’s target and the prince is skewered. Then in a puff of smoke, Thorn turns from this warrior type into a hairy monster type. Ator is dead and his “mighty sword” is broken.

Later Ator’s widow and son pay a visit to a cantankerous white haired troll named Grindle. Mrs. Ator is heartbroken and cannot go on living without her prince. She intends to take her life. But she wants Grindle to reforge the ‘mighty sword’ and give it young Ator when he turns eighteen. And since she will be dead, she also wants the troll to bring up her son.

One of the many challenges Ator must face

Now Ator may be dead, but he seems to be in some kind of limbo. It’s not heaven and it’s not hell. Limbo appears to be beside a lake, and Ator receives reports about what is happening in the real world from a witch played by Marisa Mell. Now I am a big fan of Marisa Mell. Anyone who has seen Danger: Diabolik is a big fan of Marisa Mell — and needless to say my fantasy life does include a rotating bed with Marisa Mell on it, covered in money, but enough of that. But my memories of Mell in far better films just make this much too painful. Here, Mell plays a frizzy haired hag forced to spout the most ridiculous dialogue.

Now Ator junior is eighteen — and he too is played by Erik Allen Kramer who looks on the wrong side of forty. He asks Grindle for the sword but the old troll refuses to give it to him. So Ator starts a search around the cave — you know, looking under rocks, behind shelves, everywhere and anywhere really.

Kramer and Marisa Mell

Eventually he finds the sword and well, great. That should be it then — Quest complete. I wish. No, Marissa Mell turns up again, and she sends the lad off on another quest to claim the ‘Treasure of the Kingdom of the West’. So off he goes. Along the way he battles all sorts of people and things — what was that weird two headed robot thing? And there’s a weird creepy bit where Ator meets his mother once again. Ick! There’s also some other weird subplot about this chick named Denera. She has feelings for Ator Sr., but here people aren’t allowed to have feelings. As punishment, she is trapped behind a wall of fire.

The music is awful, the acting is worse, and the story is unintelligible. And as for the casting, at least in the earlier Ator films Miles O’Keefe registered as a person. Eric Allen Kramer is just a huge slab of wood with thinning — rather than flowing — hair. Which seems even more silly when you realise he is playing an eighteen year old boy. The final crime this film commits is the misleading title: Quest for the Mighty Sword. It’s not really a quest is it? It’s more of a search around the house. To me, the idea of a quest is more a journey of discovery.

Fans of Joe D’Amato’s Troll 2 may find some amusement in watching this, as he recycled some of the costumes for this flick, but for all others, just don’t do it. Don’t watch. Ignore it and it’ll go away!

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